This was originally posted on Huffington Post in 2016. In the wake of another school shooting, it has become relevant once again.
As everyone knows, there was a terrible attack in Paris on Friday, November 13. ISIS has claimed responsibility for it. Right after it happened, all of the various social media sites lit up with different versions of “Pray for Paris.” My first thought was “Why?” While I get that to religious folks praying for someone, or a whole country in this case, is a kind, warm thing to do, it is not the most helpful thing to do. I’m not trying to be a jerk to my religious friends out there. I would LOVE if prayer worked. Think about how different the world it would be.
We would not need to pray for Paris or any of the other places that insane, misguided people have attacked because there would be no such thing as terrorists. Someone would have prayed away that whole “let’s kill each other over God” mess hundreds of years ago.
The world would be jam-packed with people. There would be a lot more babies because the “pro-life” folks would have prayed away all abortions. Also, other people would have prayed away HIV, herpes, hepatitis c, and all other sexually transmitted diseases. So, people who were concerned about catching diseases would stop using condoms. Thus, leading to more pregnancies. No one would ever die because people would have prayed away cancer, AIDS, Ebola, and a host of other diseases along with death in general.
Everyone would be really overweight, and then not. First, people would pray to end world hunger so there would be so much food everywhere that people would become obese. Then, people would pray to end obesity. So, everyone would wake up one morning as though they had spent a month on The Biggest Loser. Slim-Fast, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and all other weight loss programs would go bankrupt.
Every football, basketball, baseball, soccer, or other game would end in a tie. Think about it. You’re praying for YOUR team to win, and your *&#khead neighbor is praying for HIS team to win. Important stuff here. So, it’s a tie. God is listening to EVERYONE. Seriously though, if God is really listening to every prayer, he’s sucking down a trenta espresso every 9 seconds. It’s a lot of work. You would think he’d hire helpers.
I used to pray when I was a kid when I still believed in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and Jesus. Back in the 70’s, I prayed to end the sexual abuse I was enduring. I had tried telling my grandmother about it when I was three, but she told me “we don’t talk about things like that.” So, I used to curl up under my sheets and pray that it wouldn’t happen again. But it continued, just like cancer, terrorism and all of the other horrible things go on even though a lot of us are praying for them to stop.
I know what you’re thinking. If something bad happens, it happens for a reason, right? God chooses which prayers to answer. It’s all a part of God’s plan. Well, then God is one sick dude. He allows people to be raped, tortured, starved, bombed, beaten, and many other things just because it’s a part of his plan. Is he playing some masochistic version of the Sims?
The majority of people don’t question “God’s plan.” They go on offering prayers in person and online. If you really think about it, typing “prayers” as a comment on Facebook or a hashtag on Twitter is really a very useless thing to do. It’s not actually helping anyone but the person who typed “prayers.” That person feels like they actually did something. In reality, they probably typed “prayers,” reached into the bag next to them for another Cheeto, and then went back to surfing the net for fat pics of their ex. Even if the person actually DOES pray, what does this actually accomplish?
Oh, people always have stories of that time that prayer saved someone. Maybe their spouse had a brain tumor and it was completely cured. It’s a miracle! God saved the spouse, right? Nope. Maybe, just maybe, the surgeon who removed the tumor should get credit. He did spend a decade or more in training to do just that. I don’t know about you, but Jesus Christ, MD is not on my health insurance plan.
Religious folks will say, “But, Lisa, GOD put that surgeon in that person’s life to save their husband. God did that.” Oh, silly me. So, God gets credit for giving a person a surgeon but not for blessing them with cancer. Of course. That’s logical.
If we really want to help people, there are tangible things we can do. Does your friend have cancer? Offer to hire a cleaning service for her, or take her a meal. Buy her some warm pajamas. Do something real to help. Want to help the people in Paris? You can donate to the Red Cross and Red Crescent. They are coordinating efforts to assist victims in Paris and other places. Pray all you want, but if you really want to help people, there are ways to do it.
It’s really easy to play armchair quarterback with the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. A lot of people who were not there have all sorts of opinions. For example, most people are calling former school resource officer Scot Peterson a coward because he did not enter the school during the shooting. I can’t really say I would have either, even if I were a cop. The entire shooting lasted six minutes. There was really not time to do a whole lot of thinking. And what would have happened if he had gone in? Would he have really had the opportunity to save those 17 kids? Perhaps, he would have died, too. Would that have been a good thing?
And now some folks want to arm teachers. Let me tell you as a former middle and high school teacher, I would have been useless with a gun in that situation. First of all, I have stress induced IBS attacks. So, as soon as I heard gunshots and saw kids running and screaming, I would have shit my pants. Then, I would maybe think, “I should get that gun in the drawer.” So, I would probably start shaking from the stress and the fact that I am running around with shitty pants on. I would grab the keys to the gun drawer, because I’m assuming it would be locked, and then I would probably drop them three times. If I did manage to get the drawer open, I would probably drop the gun and end up shooting myself somehow, or I would maybe shoot a student by accident. Then, I would be bleeding, shitting, and crying.
Aside from the people who want to arm teachers, there are the religious people who want to arm the schools with God. Just like with every school shooting, the religious folks are saying this happens because God isn’t allowed in school. In fact, the Florida House just voted to put “In God We Trust” on all school buildings.
What does an in god we trust sign actually do? Does it give God permission to enter schools and stop bullets? Because to some religious people, the separation of church and state is the reason kids are getting shot. So, God is pissed because the faculty and administration are not allowed to push religious views? He sounds like a jerk.
There seems to be a common misconception that prayer in school has been outlawed. This is not the case. The school FORCING students to pray has been outlawed. Students can pray all they want. I’m sure a lot of people have prayed for the shootings to stop. It doesn’t seem to be working.
I have heard people say that God was in fact in the building in Florida because so many students did not die. So, who is responsible for the people who did die, the devil? I’m sorry, but in my ever so humble opinion, that is just not rational. It kind of reminds me of when Potsie Weber lived under my bed when I was 7.
As an atheist, I’m often asked if I’m afraid of going to hell. The answer is no. I am pretty sure I’m already living in hell. I live on a planet where people are murdered daily and the majority of people are waiting for an invisible man in the sky to save us. I’d be more likely to believe that Batman is coming to save me than God.
I don’t have an issue with my friends having a religious practice that brings joy and peace to their lives. I have an issue with the concept that someone having “faith” is a better person than someone who is skeptical of things that are not supported by facts.
Even now in 2018, there seems to be this belief that people who believe in God are somehow better or more moral than those of us who don’t. I have finally given up on The Today Show as I’m a little tired of hearing Kathie Lee talk about “good people of faith.” She does this daily, in different conversations. They could be talking about Twizzlers, and it would end up being about her and her faith.
During the Billy Graham segment, she said Jesus was the cure for “malignancy of the soul”. I switched over to Good Morning America. Kathie Lee perpetuates the myth that you have to believe in an invisible person in the sky to be a good person. This is just not logical or correct. It is a shame that Kathie Lee is permitted to proselytize on Today.
My point is, and I do have one, that you really don’t know how you would react in a fast-paced life or death situation. You can imagine and you can hope, but you don’t know. So, you shouldn’t judge the people who were actually in that situation. Also, we need to start doing something real about all of these shootings. Whether God is real or not, he’s simply not showing up to help. So, as many people have said already, I am going to join whatever political party those kids in Parkland are starting. They are actually working for change and I hope a bunch of paid-off old white guys do not stand in their way.
I’m a card-carrying Democrat, but lately I’m more of a centrist. When it comes to mass shootings and most other issues, I think everyone should be a centrist because the big issue with our country is that everyone is fighting and worried about being right, or correct, and they are not solving anything. In my ever so humble opinion, the first issue we need to solve is school shootings, and all mass shootings, really. I think we could have solved this years ago if it had not become such a partisan issue. Liberals think it’s a gun situation, not a mental health issue. Conservatives think it’s a mental health issue and not a gun issue. Really, if we actually think about it and don’t just put on our red or blue shirts and go into battle mode, it is both and then some. There are multiple things that have brought us to this point.
- Competition society – Everything is a competition in America. Sports, career, money, cars, grades, likeability are just a few of the things where everyone wants to be better. It’s great to be a winner in America, and it really sucks to be a loser. This starts early with PE in school, soccer leagues, cheerleading tryouts, etc. When kids lose they feel bad about themselves. Even when everyone gets a participation trophy, kids still know they lost.
- Crazy guns for civilians – Yes, your average Joe or Jane can buy an assault rifle in America, either legally or illegally. Who decided that people not actively engaged in a military battle needed these guns? Are they for hunting? Have the deer started firing back and you need more powerful guns? It’s ridiculous to be able to kill so quickly and easily.
- Sudafed and cars – Make guns as hard to buy as Sudafed and cars. I have allergies. I buy a lot of Sudafed products. Where I live, you have to have a driver’s license for the state you are buying the product in. When we first moved here, my husband was not allowed to buy Sudafed because he had not gotten his new license yet. You also have to sign for it after having your license scanned. They do this because there is a HOUSEHOLD limit of the amount you can buy. Buying a car requires a lot of documentation, too. You need insurance, you need proof of employment, you need good credit. You can’t just go down to Walmart and buy a Chevy. You shouldn’t be able to buy a gun that easily either.
- Mental health – I don’t know why some of my liberal friends are so offended by the notion that maybe people who shoot dozens of people might not be right in the head. Let’s just take a look at this last gunman, Nikolas Cruz. He tortured and killed animals. I don’t mean he went hunting with his favorite uncle. I mean he threw rocks at a squirrel until it died. For those of you who do not read or watch the news or listen to anyone speak ever, animal abuse is a big red flag. It is seen consistently in those who murder humans, those we call sociopaths or psychopaths. They start out by killing animals as kids. Nikolas did this. You bet your sweet ass it’s a mental health issue. How many sane people would premeditate a mass murder? They premeditate this shit, you guys. They don’t just get really mad and shoot someone right then. Maybe some anti-psychotics and a good long stay at a mental facility would have helped. Who knows?
- Harassment – Everything is harassment now. So, even when we do know that someone is troubled and a possible threat, law enforcement often can’t do anything until that person actually hurts someone. They can’t closely monitor them because that would be harassment.
- Empathy – Instead of seeing each other as the opposition, or hurdles to jump over to reach an ever important goal, we need to see each other as people. We are all people who want to be safe, healthy, and happy. We need to stop putting each other in little boxes. Most of us don’t really fit in them anyway.
We all need to think outside our political boxes if we are going to solve this. This is not about being right or left; this is about living or dying. For real. It is time to see people as people. Let’s stop killing each other and start helping each other. Please.